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Goold: What will the pace of the offseason look like for the Cardinals?

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Sports columnists Ben Frederickson and Jeff Gordon run through some popular names in the free-agent class and assess their potential fit with the Cardinals.

Check out the highlights from Derrick Goold’s Cardinals chat with readers. The full transcript of the chat can be found here.

Q: Derrick, you’ve noted the Cards’ intent to acquire a catcher AND an impact bat, maintaining that these will be two distinct players. Is this still your (and the club’s) thinking?

A: That's still my reporting, based on what the Cardinals are describing and what other sources who have spoken with the Cardinals about their plans tell me.

Q: What would it cost to acquire Sean Murphy from the A's? Would Gorman and Liberatore be enough?

A: I have not heard Liberatore attached to that conversation. With Gorman, you're talking about the type of player that I've heard and reported that it would take as part of the deal -- because Oakland would want at least one major-league player with more years of control than Murphy currently has. So, you're talking Murphy (3) so does that mean Gorman (5) or Burleson (6). You get the idea. It's going to be competitive for Murphy, for sure, and the Cardinals are going to have to try to read the possible offers elsewhere and see if they can top it in the eyes of the A's. Again, it's what Oakland wants from the Cardinals not whether the Cardinals can offer higher prospect ranks than another team.

There is definitely a vibe here that is Eaton-like, to me. The Cardinals tried to trade for Adam Eaton all those many years ago and came out of those talks shocked by what the White Sox got from Washington. So they pivoted to a free agent (Dexter Fowler).

Could see that play out again with a pivot to a free agent (Christian Vazquez).

Q: Did Knizner or Herrera hit in the minors? What kind of hitters will Andrew Knizner and Ivan Herrera be in the MLB?

A: They did. Ivan Herrera has been considered an upside prospect with the bat because of his approach, his contact, his potential power, and just the view of him as a hitter, relative to the position. And Knizner hit even better stats-wise than Herrera. In his MiLB career, Herrera has been a .276/.375/.415 hitter for a .790 OPS. Knizner had a slash line of .303/.364/.461 in the minors for a .830 OPS.

Neither of them is the contact specialist that Molina was and that allowed Molina to improve as a hitter on the job. He didn't strike out much. He went through dozens of stances, of course, but he always had the contact ability. Herrera is the closest of the duo to that but Knizner and Herrera are different hitters, more apt to have some strike out in their game and that means they're going to be more of the SLG hitter compared to their peers than batting average, and that's OK. Knizner has shown the line drive, gap to gap ability. Herrera will if the continues on his current trend of improving.

Q: How do you see the outfield shaking out for next year, is O'Neil gone or do you see him getting another chance?

A: I don't know yet. But, yes, the Cardinals want to have Tyler O'Neill reassert his place as the left fielder they want/need. They're going to give him that chance.

Q: Derrick - You mentioned in your article that the Cards were unlikely to enter the fray with the headliner SS group. Does that group include Turner, Correa, Bogaerts, and Swanson?

A: The description I got was related to Turner and Correa especially -- the two shortstops aiming for and likely to get the biggest deals of that group. The Cardinals are hanging out on the edges to see where the market goes next.

Q: Do you expect a deal to be made by the Cards before Thanksgiving?

A: I don't know. You can ask 10 people who are agents or execs and five will say they expect some pace to the offseason and five will say they don't think much will happen till the winter meetings if then.

Every year it's pretty similar, honestly. There are these weeks of awards and roster moves, and there aren't many signings in that time, there are some trades due to the roster needs, and to avoid losing players or gaining a player as the Cardinals did without having to bid on him in the open market. That stuff happens every year at this time and delays the big moves on free agents because it's priming the roster for those moves and meeting deadlines for the roster protections.

Maybe MLB needs to establish a signing window, or a signing deadline and create the frenzy other teams have because it sure seems that fans want MLB to act like NBA or NFL, and it's just not set up that way.

Why?

Blame the hot stove. The notion of it. MLB wants to be in the headlines all winter. One way to do that is have a prolonged free agent period that does leave gaps that are filled by speculation and wish casting.

Q: What would a realistic trade of DeJong look like? The Cards eat 7 million and get a longshot prospect or reliever that struggled last year? If that’s the case, would the Cards even want to make that move?

A: Interesting. Yes, the team that would be acquiring DeJong would want the Cardinals to cover his salary down to a point of what they are counting on him being. If that's a utility player off the bench, then you're talking about a significant amount of money being covered. And that seems like what the new team and Cardinals could count on. That's a role that is handled by a 0-3 player, maybe a first-year arbitration player? And without that salary coverage the team trading for him does not have to offer much. Think back to when the Cardinals traded Skip Schumaker to the Dodgers and the Class AA infielder who came in return.

Q: How do fans force the team to spend beyond their "target budget?" We need help. Our methods aren't working. If we leave empty seats at a playoff game they do nothing. If we pack the house all summer and buy the food, drinks, and merch they thank us and immediately talk up Paul DeJong's 3rd comeback spring.

A: You're dismissing the comments to Post-Dispatch from John Mozeliak about the role the fans and criticism played in his push to get Nolan Arenado. He said specifically that the Cardinals had got to a point where the fans doubted they could pull off a major deal like that, take on a salary like that. He said he saw the importance of showing that they still could.

Q: Is Lars Nootbaar the starting RF opening day?

A: He is a starting outfielder for them, somewhere out there, yes.

Q: I hear you talking a lot more about Vasquez than Contreras, is it a foregone conclusion at this point that the Cardinals aren't as interested in Contreras, or am I over reading you?

A: I'm reporting what I can get confirm with sources and relay to readers. I've outlined, in print and elsewhere, the hesitation the Cardinals have with Contreras.

Q: Is Lars Nootbaar the starting RF opening day?

A: He is a starting outfielder for them, somewhere out there, yes.

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